The Taming of the Yandere
Why Chapter 5 was skipped: click here
Chapter 6: Soy Sauce and Vinegar
My room was silent, and my bed was comfy. But my mind was a shitstorm.
I tossed and turned, but I couldn’t fall asleep.
My head was filled with the girl’s expression. Who wouldn’t worry after something like that?
“Was her name Jiang Muqing?”
My brain couldn’t stop spinning.
From a young age, I’ve always been a pessimist.
It didn’t matter what was happening; I always thought in the wrong direction.
But I don’t think this is a weakness.
If I prepare for the worst, I would never be disappointed. I won’t be discouraged from trying harder, and my results would never be in my expectations.
In elementary school *, my teacher asked us to form sentences using “flowers”, “birds”, “grass”, and “dogs”.
*also known as primary school. Grades 1-6.
My classmates excitedly made the most jovial sentences they could think of.
“The flowers bloomed pleasantly.”
“The grass sprouted fervently.”
“The birds chirped happily.”
“The dogs rolled in delight.”
I, a little kid, scrunched my eyebrows, and thought deeply. I remembered the scientific documentaries I watched on television, and how everything eventually comes down to a gloomy end.
So I lifted my pen, and wrote:
“The flowers died, the grass died, the birds died, and the little dogs died too.”
That was how depressing I was. In my little heart, I had already discerned a blurred truth of the real world.
However, I received an even more depressing response from the teacher:
“Lu Fan, don’t cheat on your classwork! Redo your classwork!”
Hmph, ridiculous humans.
I thought as I wrote new “lifelike” and “cheerful” sentences.
My real name is Lu Fan, and not the girl’s “Fan Lu”.
What kind of parents would name their boy such a feminine name?
“Lu” * is the ancient term for jade. In modern times, it would only serve to describe beautiful women.
*Another Chinese lesson for you readers: As you probably already know, Chinese words can sound the same phonetically, but mean completely different things. Our Lu Fan’s name is written as “陆凡”. The fake name he gave to the police was Fan Lu, as he wrote, “樊璐”. Completely different meanings, completely identical sounds. The feminine “Lu” he refers to is 璐.
It was only a month ago when I saved that girl from 16 floors high. To satisfy the authorities, I flipped my name backwards for them to record.
I couldn’t imagine how I was still found. For me, it was a surreal experience.
Everything started flowing back into my mind….
“I never thought I would see you here. It’s a strange coincidence that we attend the same high school.” I tilted my head, and smiled halfheartedly at the intoxicated girl.
The girl looked at me, but didn’t talk. She just gazed at me silently.
“Is there something on my face?”
I wondered aloud, and wiped the sweat on my cheek.
The girl shook her head with a light smile.
“Are you alright now? Your friends and family must’ve talked with you.”
My hair stood on end as she kept on staring. My face was frozen in an expression of assurance.
I was not familiar at all towards these types of situations.
“It’s not because of them.”
As soon as I mentioned family, the girl’s smile vanished, replaced with a cold, indifferent glare.
Her state right now….
Is it because of she’s confused of what I said that time?
After all, she said all that to a complete stranger. If she truly believed it, it would be a dire situation….
I realized she was getting a little unhappy.
“Don’t worry about that! What I said that day, was completely insane! I won’t tell anyone, I’ve long since forgotten it!”
I said in a light fashion, trying to distract her.
But when I said those words, the girl’s cheerful smile disappeared.
She seemed to collect her thoughts, and paused for a few moments. She asked,
“Do you care about me?”
“These types of things, should really be handled by friends and family. We’ve only met once, after all.”
I was a little uncomfortable.
“Do you like me?”
“You know, what happened a month ago should really be treated of as a random encounter. Even if there’s some slight, favorable emotions, it shouldn’t be thought of as like like.”
I felt that some awkwardness was starting to grow upon us.
“Do you love me?”
Her tone became heavy.
“As relatives have blood-bonds, and lovers have soul-bonds, we both still are strangers to each other. To you, I should be no more than a good Samaritan.”
I smiled, trying to make the atmosphere less awkward.
The shoujo bit her lip tightly. In such a lively summer afternoon, her face staled like a wilted flower.
She ground her teeth angrily. Her legs started to shake.
“Would you be my boyfriend?”
The girl’s voice lowered even deeper. Her eyes started to tear up, and grow red around the rims.
“For high school students, academics should be the first priority. Is there truly a reason for romance at this point in our lives? Besides wasting precious study time, it’s does nothing to us at all. Classmate, as the model student, you should know this better than anyone else.”
I didn’t understand. Why would such words come from her lips?
A shining tear dropped from the edge of her eye. It streaked across her cheek, and dripped down her neck.
I was taken back.
She was crying?!
Why would she do that?
What did I do wrong?
“Why did you promise me, then?”
She looked at me with bloodshot eyes, demanding hysterically.
“It was just to calm you down. Don’t worry about it, I won’t say a word to anyone. Please don’t be like this.”
The girl’s ear-splitting shrieks attracted the attention of nearby students. Some people already started walking curiously in our direction. No matter who was right or wrong, the crime of making a girl cry will definitely be placed on my shoulders.
“Classmate, are you alright?”
I reached over, wanting to comfort her somehow.
“Fan Lu, why did you even say those words? I clearly already….”
“I was too naive…. I…. Clearly don’t have any hope left for this world….”
She angrily slapped my hand away.
“If someone was in danger, anyone would offer a helping hand. It doesn’t matter if their name is Fan Lu, or Lu Fan.” I heightened my voice, looking at her earnestly.
No matter what, I did a good deed, didn’t I?
I wouldn’t have minded if she didn’t thank me. But why would she be like this towards me?
I was utterly baffled.
“Lu Fan? No wonder, I couldn’t find you for ages…. Liar…. Even your name….”
She muttered to herself with empty eyes. Compared to the gentle, confident student she was on stage, this was like a completely different person.
Her words only worsened my ailing brain.
She pushed me back, and ran like a madman. She ran headfirst into a glass door, and kept sprinting through the campus.
I was left alone, scratching my head in confusion.
Afterwards, I warily checked her background.
Not too long ago, she was the #1 at our rival school: Shier High.
Shier High’s conditions paled in comparison to ours, Shiyi High. However, they had the most threatening weapon against our exam scores- Jiang Muqing.
Her grades were excellent, catching the attention of my Shiyi High, the best in the state.
From elementary to high school, she was permanently #1, winning various nation-wide competitions, receiving countless prizes.
Her downfall was at the middle school final exams, where her scores suddenly dropped to the bare minimum of Shier High, and had no choice but to enter it.
In high school, however, she was still scored at the top.
Shier High was overjoyed to find such a diamond in the rough, indubitably attracting the attention of Shiyi High.
Since the quota for the nation’s top universities are extremely scarce, Shiyi would never allow other schools to steal their glory.
I didn’t know what my school did, but they somehow snatched Jiang Muqing from the Shier High’s hungry jaws.
She only transferred to our school a short while ago. Even the privilege of the pre-finals assembly, designated for our top student, Classmate Wang, was given to Jiang Muqing, who didn’t even take our midterm exams.
What was the purpose of this? Showing off to Shier?
No matter who, any hardworking student who fights for the honor of our school will be rewarded greatly. This is supposed to be the iron law of Shiyi High.
Besides that, she had another insignificant identity—the girl I saved from 16 floors up.
She must be insane. To be fought over by two famous schools wouldn’t appear in my wildest dreams. What was she thinking, why would she want to kill herself?
My head spun, and my hands slowly stopped stirring.
“Fan, is dinner ready yet?”
My mother called from the living room.
I quickly resumed frying the cabbage.
Once I was all finished, Mom ran into the kitchen, hungry as a tiger.
Dinner was chilled cucumbers and bamboo, stir-fried cabbage, a big pot of sweet-bean soup, and a cooker full of rice.
The vegetables were finely chopped. The cabbage was crisp and fresh, and the delicious smell of sweet-beans and rice filled the house. I looked upon my dishes in approval. This food was perfect for the young summer.
“No meat again? Fan, what did you do with your shopping money?”
Mom looked at our dinner sadly.
“Eating meat in the summer isn’t good for you. And didn’t you mention losing weight earlier this week?”
I reminded her, exasperated.
“Oh, that’s right. If you didn’t mention it, I would have forgotten completely.”
She started eating in an aggressive manner.
Mom turned in her final drafts a few days ago. Since then, she’s been letting loose, and sleeping to her heart’s content. The dark circles around her eyes were fading quickly.
“Fan, the Dragon Boat Festival* is coming soon. How about we take a little vacation?”
*The Dragon Boat Festival, or 端午节, is a national holiday celebrating the late poet Qu Yuan. Most schools let the day off. Look it up online.
“I still have cram school and homework, Mom. Finals are coming up, and they’re going to divide us into new classes based on our test scores.”
“Fan, you’re such a good son. Ever since you started high school, I doesn’t have to worry about your studies anymore. But you should still take a break sometimes.”
My mother ruffled my hair.
“Don’t treat me like a kid, Mom.”
While we ate, the television blared with news:
“According to our reporters, a female corpse was discovered near the lake at People’s Park this morning. The city police department has begun investigating. The coronary department has stated that the female is a 16-17-year-old girl. The cause of death is still under investigation….”
My heart skipped a beat.
“What’s wrong, little Fan?”
My mother seemed to sense something was wrong.
I jolted forward.
“Is it heat stroke? Fan, you’re not behaving normally, what happened to your face….”
My mother patted my bruise worriedly.
“Mom, I might have done something terrible.”
For some reason, my nose started burning and I wanted to cry.
My chest felt like it was hit by a sledgehammer. I could barely breathe.
“Did you accidentally put vinegar instead of soy sauce? Don’t worry, it still tastes good sweet and sour.”
My mother pinched some cabbage with her chopsticks, and laughed in ignorance.